The following entry in our Summit League Logo series is a guest post by Danny M. Danny was featured previously in our Student Section Chronicles for Oakland U as a Grizz Gang leader, and previously covered Southern Utah in a logo piece here. He is a loyal Grizzly and, as we find out below, full of clever thoughts when it comes to logos in this conference!
Origin of Nickname: Perhaps only in The Summit League could there be a team whose nickname story contains an animal which hasn’t existed for 10,000 years, a farmer named Orcie, Angola (the city, not the country), and number 69 (the highway, not the, well you know) In all honesty, it is a pretty cool story: basically a farmer found some mastodon bones, and IPFW was the only entity which seemed to want them. The university subsequently turned the skeleton into a science exhibit and the prehistoric creature into its mascot. (h/t: The Summit League)
Philosophical Take: When schools make the transition to DI, or even just a new conference, they often shed their old identities like an Australian Sheppard in the spring. Traditionally, the City of Fort Wayne has been known as a "City of Churches," with of course most of those churches being of the Judeo-Christian variety. Now I realize there is no company line on this whole creationism thing, but there is no doubt that a public university using a creature from prehistory as its mascot in a city with copious amounts of churches pushes some buttons among the believers. As far as we know, there are no teams called the Tyrannosaurus Rex's in the state of Alabama, or Megalodons from the state of Mississppi. For some, "Go Mastodons" is the equivalent of saying "Go Unicorns," forgetting the fact that there is a 13.53% chance that at some point there actually may eventually be a team called the Unicorns in The Summit League, considering the conference has every other ridiculous mascot covered (we're looking at you, UMKC). This is an obvious push back against the status quo of the city. With a vivacious young coach at the helm, this program is beating back against the paradigms of old.
Final Judgment: We love all of this "fight the man" and "moving forward stuff," but in the words of YouTube Rainbow Guy: what does it mean? The school with the oldest mascot and youngest coach has been surprising people with its competitiveness since the program entered The Summit League, and we can say from experience that their fan attendance and involvement has progressed in the three years that pilgrimages have been made from Rochester to Fort Wayne for the OU-IPFW game. They have donned a new colloquial name for the team: The Dons (see what we...ok, never mind). This new, unique direction thing seems to working for them, proving that maybe sometimes you have to look to 10,000 years ago to be progressive.
How We'd Fix It: All this positivity is getting a little noxious, and with all the good things being said about this mascot and team, there are still some areas which could be improved. They seem to be stuck in the old school of thought that mascots must be cartoony. The "mastodon" looks more like an elephant from the zoo than a monster out of pre-history. In fact, the ele-don (we can't keep a clean conscious and still call this thing a mastodon) looks like it just got out of bed, looking sleepy and still having a bit of bed-head in the back. Completely un-terrifying, which is completely un-mastodon like. These things were 14 foot long-10 foot high, tusk-bearing mounds of terror. Okay, so they were herbivores, but they were still giant! We need a real mastodon, not Babar's cousin. Thinking a bit outside the box on this one, we decided to go with a triumvirate of Mastodons, opposed to one, mainly because if there is one thing more terrifying than one mastodon, it is three of them. We also chose to go with the sleek, slanted IPFW text to juxtapose the bruiting slowness of the mascot. Finally, we partied like it is 2002, bringing back the black outline to the text, simply because black outlines make everything look good.